Skip to main content

Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

See other formats

selves as well. These criteria are derived from an analysis of moral discourse and describe the kinds of considerations that arise in the processes of formulating or reformulating our own moral judgments, and of attempting to resolve disputes (12-17). They are embodied in our social and institutional practices and appear in classical attempts to describe an ideal moral judge (14).
Using these normative and meta-ethical criteria, this paper will explore the ethical acceptability of some major population policy proposals.
Questions of Distributive Justice
The ethical acceptability of any population policy will certainly hinge on the relation it bears to distributive justice-to the way in which goods and benefits are to be divided. In terms of this paper, achieving a just distribution of goods is governed by two principles: each person participating in a practice or affected by it has an equal right to the most extensive liberty compatible with a like liberty for all; and inequalities are justifiable only where it is reasonable to expect that they will work out for everyone's advantage and provided that the positions and offices to which they attach or from which they may be gained are open to all (18).
Distributive justice is a strongly held value. Gross inequalities with respect to one's share in a society's goods or one's opportunity to change a disadvantageous position (as in slavery) can prompt people to risk death. It is in the interest of society as well as individuals to satisfy the principles of distributive justice.
Population policy proposals that advocate the use of positive or negative incentives are very directly involved in questions of distributive justice. "Positive incentives" means the governmental inducements that take the form of direct payments of money, goods, or services to members of the target population in return for the desired practice of limiting births. "Negative incentives" are tax or welfare penalties exacted from couples that exceed a specified number of children.
Ketchel (19) has described very well some of the forms of injustice that would be generally perpetrated by population policies resorting to positive and negative incentives:
In underdeveloped countries practically no financial inducements to have children now exist to be reversed, and the imposition of further taxes upon the many poor people would depress their living standards even further and probably only succeed in raising the death rates. In developed countries people in higher economic groups could still afford to have as many children as they wished so the economic pinch associated with having children would be felt mainly by middle-class and lower-middle-class people, to whom the cost of having children, though somewhat easedc actions or policies wil! be right or wrong insofar as they exhibit one or the other of these characteristics. For example, the act of telling a lie to save a friend violates the prima facie duty of truth-telling but satisfies the prima facie duty of not harming others. To decide the Tightness or wrongness of particular actions or policies will usually involve